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(en) US, WILDFIRE - October 2004,We Are More Than a Piece; We are Part of the Puzzle One Year After the 2003 APOC Conference­ Criticism self-criticism and moving away from individualism by Heather Ajani

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 25 Nov 2004 08:02:01 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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Nearly a year has past since the first Anarchist People of Color
Conference in Detroit. So where are we as people of color who identify
as anarchists, anti-authoritarians, agitators, autonomous, etc.?
When I look at the past few months of my life, I realize that as a
participant in last year's conference as an organizer and a co-author of
a network proposal, that being an anarchist/anti-authoritarian (fill in
the blank "a") person of color is probably more of a description of who
we are rather than how we function in the larger context of social and
political movement. It makes me wonder if we are looking at our identities
in terms of who we are politically above who we are personally and whether
that leads us to necessitate
the creation of yet another or-
ganization rather than spaces in
which we can gain empowerment
and self-determination-the strength
to struggle against a larger system
of domination. Or are we mirroring
what is already existent in the left,
but as people of color? Does that
bar us from seeing the larger struggle
of people color around the world,
and more still from participating in
that struggle within our communities
locally as well as globally?
Since last October, I have seen
projects in the works, participated
in conference calls, been to a re-
gional gathering, collective meet-
ings, participated in committees, and
met with individuals who identified
with "APOC" tendencies as part of
an oral history project. I can't help
but wonder what it's all for. What
makes us cohesive? What does
representing APOC mean, say for
instance if one is an anarchist of
color, but isn't "with APOC," are they
still not APOC? Does this make
your head spin like it does mine?
Are we repeating identity politics or
are we creating a political tendency
that is becoming a loosely knit or-
So far, we have committees, fo-
rums, websites, a monthly publica-
tion-hell, we even have a book. Why
are we not calling a spade a spade?
Or is the spade really a club?
If we are going to move ahead,
we need to look at serious ques-
tions. We need to look at the big-
ger picture. This begins with defin-
ing ourselves politically. One thing
that came up as I traveled the coun-
try was the need to address things
like race, class and gender among
radical people of color. This has
been largely ignored as we still have
tendencies towards activist tourism,
middle-class guilt, assimilation, cul-
tural appropriation, machismo, dis-
proportionate numbers in terms of
cultural/racial representations, etc.
We have all the makings and mis-
takes of what white-led groups have
already built, so what makes us dif-
ferent? That we are brown, black,
etc? Is that enough when it comes
to building the foundations for revo-
It may seem pessimistic to dis-
miss organic growth process, but
even when gardens grow organi-
c a l l y, the crops still need to be
tended to.
Whether it be together, sepa-
rately, within the larger activist left,
or in our communities (where we live,
where we work, etc.) we need to
redefine how radical tendencies
apply to communities of color in a
contemporary context.
This means that we need to study
our histories and our cultures. We
need to look at political movements
across the board and learn what
worked and what didn't. We need
to figure out how words and ideolo-
gies become who we are now in
terms of our struggle. We have to
be able to write and develop our
own theory, we need to be self-de-
fined. We can't leave our destinies
up to dead-(mostly) white guys who
wrote about struggles going on a
hundred years ago, when so much
more has been done to manipulate
and further hold us back.
We need to begin by develop-
ing a political program, thus recog-
nizing and addressing how we are
involved in our communities and how
we work together on a larger scale.
This also means that we need to take
seriously racial hierarchies, gender
oppression, and class differences/
privileges. We need to struggle
a g a i n s t the tyranny that is the
Amerik an Project. We need to look
at politics/society as a fluid and ever
changing experiment. While we can
take from the lessons of groups like
the Black Panthers, the Young Lords,
etc, we can also look at mistakes
such as those made historically in
those groups as well as white-led
movements such as the Weather
Underground. We need to not take
on the tendencies of the white left,
white anarchism, etc. Those ten-
dencies to which I am referring to
are those in which there is a sepa-
ration between those activating and
those organizing their own people
against an oppressor.
We should be able to plug into
community struggles without an in-
dividualist approach that garners the
need for self-gratification. We need
to remember that we are part of
something that is bigger than us, not
the communities of activists we are
building. Our call to consciousness
s h o u l d be contingent on the
struggles we live daily, not a discov-
ery or a realization or a "calling" to
"help" others.
The problem in duplicating an-
other anarchist milieu is that anar-
chism currently allows for reinven-
t i o n of the wheel, patronization/
tokenization of oppressed peoples,
lifestylism that borders on the mor-
alism so prevalent in the Puritanical
values that drive the existing empire.
Contemporary anarchism does little
to truly challenge and breakdown
that culture instead focusing on
monthly bike rides, co-ops, collec-
tive houses and infoshops that fur-
ther fuck over oppressed people with
gentrification, dislocation, economic
hardship among other problems.
Anarchism today is little more than
a bastardization of various social
movements that allows angst-ridden
individuals to live as they choose
We need to
figure out how
words and
become who
we are now in
terms of our
within the context of Amerikanism.
It is little more than a sub-culture
with little cohesion or political unity.
I am not saying that all of what
I've raised is necessarily true or ap-
plicable to all anarchists or all anar-
chists of color. The point that I'm
raising is that anarchism comes with
a lot of preconceived notions. We
need to break those tendencies; we
n e e d to break the cycles of
marginalization that we experience
on various levels. We need to see
anarchism as an ends to which we
determine the means. We need to
tear down before we can rebuild.
More clearly, this means that we
need to develop an analysis that is
unique to the anarchist people of
color tendency and in which the
practice of that analysis is contin-
gent upon. We should view trends
of mirroring the white left with the
same skepticism that many of us do
when we talk about the participa-
tion of whites in our movements. By
not developing our own unique po-
litical praxis, we are falling into a
w h i t e w a s h i n g of our pain and
There is a need to rebuild on
various levels. Recently, I saw a
documentary on the Weather Under-
g r o u n d and something Kathleen
Cleaver said in regards to the FBI's
c o u n t e r intelligence program
(Cointel-Pro) was that it was effec-
tive in not only tearing revolutionary
movements apart, but that it had
succeeded in tearing away the trust,
love and sense of humor that we
once had in our struggles.
We need to have political and
personal praxis to function effec-
tively. We need to develop acces-
sible political language and build
political unity that not only allows
for our autonomy, but strengthens
our struggle towards a common
goal. We need to become a part of
the world around us or get reac-
quainted with our non-activist com-
munities if we aren't/haven't done
so already. We need to be able to
assess our needs, goals and visions
within those contexts. We need to
also be disciplined and serious in
meeting those goals and working
towards those visions. We need to
look beyond our own individuality
and look towards a common goal,
the bigger picture.
When we start to get away from
the notion that we are part of some-
thing bigger than ourselves, then we
can truly be effective. We need to
realize that our strengths lie in em-
powerment of ourselves within our
communities, building unity amongst
people of color, promoting self-defi-
nition and self-determination, work-
ing towards freedom and develop-
ing a vision that we can work to-
wards and until we start doing these
things, we replicate the tendency of
yet another subculture.

APOC book gets free
Our Culture, Our Resistance:
People of Color Speak Out on
A n a r c h i s m , Race, Class and
Gender, the APOC book project
started last year, is complete... and
then some.
It is being made available to you
in Adobe Acrobat PDF format to
download, print and sell/distribute
the entire book locally.

September 5
23 conscientious
objectors deliver
collective letter of
resistance to the
apartheid policing by
the South African
Defense Forces in
Cape Town. (1987)
September 7
Mozambique's Victory
Day marks the end of
over a decade of
guerilla struggle
against Portuguese
colonial rule. (1974)
September 9
The first strike by
plantation workers,
for $1 a day in
Georgia and
Arkansas, is lost.
September 13
Students at Oberlin
College free fugitive
slave from slave
catchers. (1858)
September 17
U.S. government
enters into first treaty
it made with Native
Americans. (1778)
September 21
Nicaraguan dictator
Anastasio Somoza
assassinated by
Rigoberto Lopez
Perez. (1956)
September 24
Saigon, Vietnam, is
taken by revolutionary
forces, with workers,
peasants and the
poor setting up
communes around
the city. (1945)
September 26
Gandhi ends fast
against separate
electorate for
September 28
Indigenous peoples
from around the globe
meet in Bolivia to
discuss globalization
September 30
The National Farm
Workers Association
forms at a convention
called by Cesar
Chavez in Fresno,
California. The group
would later become
the United Farm
Workers. (1962)
Additions? Correx?

October 5
Black uprising in Las
Vegas, Nevada.
October 8
Reggae star Bob
Marley collapses
onstage during a
Wailers concert in
Pittsburgh, the last
show that group will
play; Marley dies the
following year.
October 10
Denver, Colorado
cancels its traditional
Columbus Day
parade for the second
year in a row over
concerns about
October 13
United Fruit Company
troops in Nicaragua
and two U.S.
cruisers take over the
country's Atlantic
ports in aid of rebels.
October 16
Native American
activist Kicking Bear
removed by
reservation police
from Standing Rock
Agency, South
Dakota, for teaching
the Ghost Dance, a
new Indian religion
that foretold the
disappearance of
white people. (1890)
October 19
18 South African
working for Black
liberation closed
down by the apartheid
government. (1977)
October 22
300,000 protesters
march in Japan for
International Antiwar
Day. (1968)
October 24
Yavapai tribe in
Arizona wins $5
million settlement for
nine million acres
taken in 1874.
October 27
Egyptian writer
Nawal El Saadawi
born. (1931)
October 29
Chicago Eight Trial
begins; Bobby Seale
bound and gagged for
proceedings. (1969)
October 30
The U.S. Supreme
Court orders
throughout the
country. (1969)
Additions? Correx?
About the zine About Wildfire: A Chronicle
of Oppressed People's Organizing is a monthly
publication in support of and solidarity with
the anarchist/autonomous people of
color movement. Your writings, feedback,
art and participation are welcome and
appreciated. Send email to apoc@illegalvoices.org.
APOC Website: www.illegalvoices.org

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